Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The joke's on Ai

This is art
It's a whole new take on the emperor's new clothes - and a classic case of pretentiousness pricked.

Over in Florida, a row has broken out after an artwork by renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was destroyed.

The piece - reportedly worth $1m - was destroyed.

Caminero has stated that he did it because galleries in the area never exhibit the works of local artists.

This is also art. Not vandalising ancient objects
But why did he smash a vase to make his point?

Well, this is where it all gets a little amusing.

One of the exhibits in the exhibition is Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, a series of three photographs that show Ai dropping a vase and breaking it.

The vase in question was, apparently, some 4,000 years old, which, you could be forgiven for thinking, made it an act of vandalism rather than art.

But somehow the triptych of photographs, which hadn't been planned seriously, came to take on a life of their own and were declared, by the cognoscenti, to be Art.

This Florida exhibition also includes a further series of Han vases, all of which have been painted by Ai. It was one of these that Caminero decided to make his protest with.

Art echoing art, you might think.

But Ai isn't happy.

This is not art
On the one hand, he's said that, since he owned the vase that he smashed, it was his to do with as he wished.

On the other hand, he stated that he didn't support artists destroying other artists' work.

All of which seems a tad confused, since unless Ai is an awful lot older than he's been letting on, he appears to consider it a work of art for him to destroy someone else's work of art.

And those painted vases now worth a cool million greenbacks - all his own work or simply someone else's, to which he has added a few smears of colour?

While ownership might allow him to do whatever he wants with an antique that he owns, isn't there the small ethical matter of profiting directly from someone else's work without properly acknowledging their contribution?

But it does all rather bring to mind Duchamp's urinal.

But whereas that artist's joke was on others, the joke now seems to be on Ai.

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